American Bible Society’s .bible domain policies restrict religious freedom online, critics say

Religion News Service | 3/13/2018 | Yonat Shimron
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(RNS) — A group of Bible scholars is concerned about free expression on the internet.

Specifically, they object to the way the American Bible Society is running its recently acquired .bible domain name, which they say strictly limits a wide range of faiths and essentially excludes any group with a scholarly or secular orientation.

Internet - Space - John - Kutsko - Director

“The internet is public space,” said John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, the oldest and largest learned society devoted to the critical investigation of the Bible, with about 8,500 members, mostly scholars. “It’s our understanding that .bible was registered to be public space and not have the kind of restrictions that you would expect of a domain that was proprietary or brand-oriented.”

The question became urgent after the American Bible Society acquired the .bible top-level domain name — an identification string like “.com” or “.org” — and then applied restrictive policies on who can use it.

Policies - Critics - Range - Faiths - Group

Those policies, critics say, strictly limit a wide range of faiths and essentially exclude any group with a scholarly or secular orientation. Further, they are inconsistent with the open-ended nature of the web, which is intended to be more democratic and to allow for free inquiry.

The ABS has been managing the domain since 2016 and has so far granted about 1,190 groups the .bible domain name.

Weeks - ABS - Registrants - Material - Espouses

But until a few weeks ago, the ABS prohibited registrants from posting any material that “espouses or promotes a religious, secular, or other worldview that is antithetical to New Testament principles, including but not limited to the promotion of a non-Christian religion or set of religious beliefs.”

After scholars with the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as some Jewish organizations, protested, the ABS modified its policies last month, inviting the participation of Jews.

Scholars - Commentary

But the scholars said this does not go far enough. In a commentary...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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